ESSYI Reimagined for Remote Learning – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

ESSYI Reimagined for Remote Learning

For 27 years, rising high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates have been given the opportunity to spend two weeks on the HWS campus working with more than 20 faculty members to explore the scientific, social and humanistic perspectives of environmental issues while earning a college credit. This year, for the first time in its history, the Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute (ESSYI) will convert to a remote learning program.

“Moving online is certainly a challenge due to the experiential nature of the program,” says Professor of Science and Environmental Education Jamie MaKinster, who serves as the director of ESSYI. “But we know the core outcomes can be accomplished remotely and the program will be the transformational educational experience it’s always been.”

The primary goal of ESSYI is to engage students in the process of collaborative environmental problem-solving in a way that illuminates the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues and solutions. To that end, faculty members from multiple disciplines will virtually interact with ESSYI students during the full-time, two-week online program. Students will receive a full academic course credit upon successful completion of the program, which runs from July 12-25.

MaKinster explains that the curriculum will combine asynchronous videos, synchronous online discussions and activities, video conferencing and collaborative projects. Individual sessions will explore topics such as environmental justice and ethics, environmental economics, the geography of garbage and climate change.

Students will participate in a group project that begins in the first week of the program; in the second week, they will explore their local environments to collect data and evidence that will be shared at the conclusion of the session.

The ESSYI staff is made up of current Hobart and William Smith students who will work with individual students and facilitate online groups. Alyssa Kelly ’19, MAT ’20 returns for a second summer as a staff member. “I’m excited to work with faculty, staff and student staff to make this wonderful program come to life for our students on a virtual platform,” she says. “Instead of pitching a tent for the very first time, we’ll be learning new and innovative ways to communicate with each other around the world.”

A small number of openings are still available for this summer’s session. For more information and to apply, visit

In the photo above, participants in the 2019 session of ESSYI pose for a photo at the Goodnow Mountain trailhead in the Adirondack Mountains.